NEWARK, N.J. -- The Montreal Canadiens have lost four of five -- all in regulation -- since clinching a berth in Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 11. They will begin a season-closing three-game road trip against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night and will enter the contest with one lineup change.
Forward Colby Armstrong, out since April 1 with a knee injury, will take the spot of Travis Moen on the Canadiens' fourth line. Moen signed a four-year contract with the club over the summer and has played in 44 of 45 games this season, but will be a healthy scratch against the Devils.
"Colby's an important guy," Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. "I've always believed in good team chemistry. He's good with the players. He knows the system really well. He's good killing penalties. Guys have different roles on a team when we have success. All the roles, as far as I'm concerned, are important. Colby has an important role on our club."
The most important role for Armstrong will likely be on the penalty kill; the Canadiens have allowed at least one power-play goal in their past five games. The opposition has scored eight times in 23 chances over that stretch, although Moen has been on the ice for three of them.
Armstrong said during his time watching from afar, he's seen the Canadiens become sloppy with the details in their entire game, not just on the penalty kill.
"We've gone over it on video, and pretty much what we see is just missing on a few little details of our game which expose us to give up a lot of chances," Armstrong said. "Obviously we're giving up more goals right now. All over the ice, we need to support the puck more and get back to what we were doing before."
Therrien allowed for an optional practice at Prudential Center on Monday after putting the team through two full practices since losing 5-1 to the Washington Capitals on Saturday night in Montreal. The Canadiens have allowed 25 goals in the past five games, but have allowed more than 30 shots in a game twice and have been outshot once in that span.
Goaltender Carey Price has given up 19 goals on 102 shots (.814 save percentage) in those five games, and Therrien said for the Canadiens to be successful over the rest of the season and into the postseason, Price needs to be the team's best player.
"When things are going well, especially like a city like Montreal, we're not as good as people say we're good and it's the same thing on the opposite," Therrien said. "When things are going wrong, we're not as bad as people will say. There's a balance. When we evaluate the games and we're doing our scoring chances, we're not as bad.
"We need Carey Price to be our leader. We need Carey to be our best player, and players will feed from him. That's the most important thing."
Price, who has been pulled in two of his past five games, gets the start Tuesday. Here's the rest of the Canadiens' lineup that will face the Devils:
Max Pacioretty – Tomas Plekanec – Brian Gionta
Rene Bourque – David Desharnais – Michael Ryder
Alex Galchenyuk – Lars Eller – Brendan Gallagher
Colby Armstrong – Jeff Halpern – Brandon Prust
Josh Gorges – P.K. Subban
Andrei Markov – Raphael Diaz
Francis Bouillon – Yannick Weber